Singer And Foodie Nataniël Dishes On His Love Affair With France

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For seasoned traveller Nataniël, travelling opens up a whole lot more than simply visiting a new place. Visiting new places opens the star up to new cultures, art, architecture and cuisine and, while he loves exploring as many new places as he can, he finds himself returning to France time and time again.

In fact, the star recently visited the country to shoot the upcoming season of his new TV series ‘Nataniël. Erik. Wolf.’ which sees him returning to his beloved Nantes to cook with his brother Erik and to spend time with his godchildren while rediscovering the classic fairy tales that captured his imagination as a child and inspired his career. As travel opens up again, Nataniël opens up on what viewers can expect in the new series, travelling with Air France and why France should be high up on your travel bucket list.

You went back to France to film your new television series. Tell us a little bit more about that.

This is the fifth time that I am filming a lifestyle and food series with my brother, Erik. After the previous four, we didn’t necessarily have plans to do another one, but all that changed during the pandemic. At some point it felt as if might never see my family in Nantes again so when the opportunity came, we decided to do something special – something not only about food but also about the culture and history of the French city and the life lessons I learned along the way. 

You’ve often said that France is one of your favourite places in the world. What are some of your must-visit spots in the country?

I have been going to Paris for thirty years now and that city contains everything that my soul needs. But, it can be very overwhelming. There is so much to see and discover. Every time I leave Paris, I am exhausted and it takes me weeks to digest all the information and imagery I take in while I am there. When my brother moved to Nantes and became a French citizen, I started going there as much as possible, especially after the births of my two godchildren. Nantes is the most creative place on earth, not overrun by visitors and absolutely beautiful. I feel the same about Blois, the fairy-tale city my forefathers came from. If you’re planning a trip to France, you should definitely add these three cities to your itinerary.

Are there any French cities you haven’t visited yet that you are dying to explore?

I need to get to Lyon very soon! There is something that keeps calling me to that city. I also need to explore the whole of Britanny because the culture and traditional clothes move me. But, every time I go to France I simply get stuck in Nantes. I have made so many friends and many of my favourite artists reside there. I have also been staying in the same apartment for ten years, so it has become a second home and I simply cannot leave.

French cuisine is one of your favourites as well. What can you not wait to indulge in while visiting France?

LU biscuits! I love the one with the dark chocolate and the little scholar on top. I also can’t wait to enjoy a fresh croissant a few minutes after it comes from the oven. I am also looking forward to my brother’s potato and leek soup and, surprisingly, French unsweetened yoghurt with fresh fruit. France has some of the best yoghurt in the world and I enjoy it so much. Oh, and champagne, of course. Every day ends with a little champagne. 

You’re a seasoned traveller. What advice do you have for those embarking on international trips?

My first trip to France was on Air France and I still fly the airline every time I travel there. The flight itself is a highlight of a journey and so I always make sure I use ones that I trust and know will offer me the experience of a lifetime. I always make a point to take good, well-made clothes and shoes with me on a trip to make touring a comfortable (and fashionable) experience. I also always try to get off the beaten track and ask locals where the real beautiful places are. Finally, get to know the place you are visiting. Spend time in museums, galleries and bookshops and learn. Oh, and I always buy a piece of artwork on my travels. It stays with you forever and tells a story. 

What has been one of your most memorable flying experiences?

I remember the old days when you had a few larger screens in a cabin and no real choice about what to watch. My best flight was the first time I flew Air France a few years ago and got a seat that had its own personal TV screen. I was spoiled for choice. I NEVER go to the movies because I work at night and any free time is spent at home. I also became a vegetarian a while ago and find that these meals are not any less enjoyable than before. Airlines today seem to care to serve flavourful and satisfying meals. Oh, and if the timing is tight, having a window seat and watching Paris from the sky just before landing is a moment that will always stay with me.

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